Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates all reading 0 after unfortunate events..? New tank

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by applesandoranges37, Jun 4, 2016.

  1. applesandoranges37New MemberMember

    Hi, everyone! New member to fishlore here.

    Two days ago we set up a 10 gallon freshwater tank with a preset heater and Aqueon filter (it was an aquarium kit), a couple fake aquarium plants, and a tank decor barrel. We got some water, gravel, and another fake aquarium plant from a family member's established tank and added those in as well and left it for 24 hours. Yesterday, we got three ghost shrimp and put them in and they seemed to be doing well. Then purchased an API liquid master test kit and tested ammonia & nitrites with results of 0 ppm before going to get 5 neon tetras and 2 catfish today (Before acclimating the new fish & putting them in the tank we used a bottle of Tetra SafeStart because we were worried the tank hadn't cycled in the mere two days we had it, of course. Also tested ammonia and nitrites again before putting the fish in and after the Tetra SafeStart sat for an hour- results of 0 ppm again for both so we figured it was ready for fish.)

    After we put the new fish in, it took no more than an hour before the tetras started surfacing (we assumed for oxygen but knew it wasn't normal), so we ran to the store and purchased a bubbler and set that up in the tank thinking they needed more oxygenated water. We had to leave to meet family for dinner, and came home to the very sad and disappointing sight of all five of our tetras floating... From the time we put them in the tank to the time we came home to dead fish was a total of no more than 4 hours. We scooped them out. The two catfish & three shrimp are still alive and doing well, it seems (now 3 hours after being home from dinner).

    Now for the question:
    We decided to test the water again and this time tested ammonia, nitrites, AND nitrates, and all three read 0 ppm. We are very confused. We have redone the tests 3 times and made sure to follow the directions for each closely and REALLY shake up the #2 nitrate bottle before using it. How are the nitrates 0? Also, any idea why our tetras died?

  2. KwigWell Known MemberMember

    How exactly did you acclimate them when you added them to the tank? How warm is the tank?
  3. OP

    applesandoranges37New MemberMember

    They came in a bag from petsmart so we put the bag in the water (with the fish in the bag) for 20-30 minutes, then added a bit of tank water and left that for 15 minutes, then added some more tank water and left it for another 15 minutes before slowly releasing them into the tank. That's what we were told to do/ what we read online to do.

    The heater is preset to 78 but tank seems to run between 78 & 82.

  4. MuskieCatcherValued MemberMember

    Do you know if the tank has fully cycled? 24 hours seems unlikely, also neon tetras tend to suffer from overbreeding causing poor stock, so you might have just gotten bad fish.

  5. OP

    applesandoranges37New MemberMember

    I think it has cycled due to using the Tetra SafeStart and the established tank bacteria. But not entirely sure
  6. OP

    applesandoranges37New MemberMember

    Also we've had the tank set up for three days as of an hour ago
  7. MuskieCatcherValued MemberMember

    Id recommend waiting a week or so before adding more fish. See what happens with the remaining fish, hopefully they do ok!
  8. leftswerve

    leftswerveWell Known MemberMember

    agree mostly with @MuskieCatcher , the tank is not cycled and tetras are hard to start with. Using only water from an established tank didn't do you much good. The shrimp could be the next to go. Since you added TSS, there is specific instructions for it's use. I'll see if I can find them. Also, prime is good to have on hand, you most like will go through a cycle.
  9. el337

    el337Fishlore LegendMember

    Welcome to Fishlore :)

    If you read the above link provided, you'll see it takes 14 days for TSS+ to work. Really not your fault. Tetra provides no instructions on how to cycle with their product properly.

    During that time, don't do any water changes (only top-offs) and try not to test as the numbers will cause you to think your cycle is not going as it should. If after 14 days, you have ammonia and nitrite as 0 and some nitrates, you are cycled. The water from the established tank would have been no use as there is no beneficial bacteria in the water column. It's mostly in the filter media and a little on the substrate and other hard surfaces.

    As for the neons, it might have not been a long enough acclimation if the store's water pH it came from was extremely off from your tank pH. I do also hear they are quite sensitive and are not very good fish to cycle with.

    What kind of catfish did you get?
  10. OP

    applesandoranges37New MemberMember

    We used water, gravel, and a fake plant from the established tank. Does that make a difference?

    14 days for it to work? Wow- yeah, it says you can immediately add fish on the bottle. Wish they were more clear about that!

    We did also add gravel & a fake plant from the established aquarium along with the water.

    And okay- we will wait a couple weeks to test levels again, then.

    As for the type of catfish- can't remember exactly. Would have to find the receipt to look at it and know for sure, but they are small and whiteish with black spots. Do you think they and the ghost shrimp will be okay through the cycling?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2016
  11. el337

    el337Fishlore LegendMember

  12. Dragones5150918

    Dragones5150918Well Known MemberMember

    Unfortunately no. Very little beneficial bacteria in any of those.

    As for the Tetra Safe Start, does it have a plus sign on it and says Star-Up? If it does noy have the plus sign, you got only water conditioner that has no bacteria in it. If you got the one that has the plus and says Monthly, it has very little bacteria, and not enough to cycle with. It has to have the plus sign and say start up. Plus using TSS+, you have to wait 24 hours after using something that locks up ammonia like Prime, AmmoLock, Stress Coat, etc. If you used anything that could lock up ammonia before the 24 hours is up, TSS will fail.

    With your test readings 0 across the board, I say your not even started to cycle.
  13. OP

    applesandoranges37New MemberMember

    The TSS was either the monthly or the start up one. We didn't use any of the products you listed and the water conditioner was put in more than 24 hrs before we put the TSS & fish in the tank.

    What do y'all recommend us doing at this point, with three ghost shrimp and two catfish in the tank?
  14. el337

    el337Fishlore LegendMember

    If you don't recall at all which one it was, I'd probably add in the appropriate sized bottle for your tank size that says "Start Up" on the front and then start the 14 day count from when you add it in.
  15. OP

    applesandoranges37New MemberMember

    I have a photographic memory & looked through google images at the tss bottles. We did use the tss+ start up- not the monthly maintenance or the one with no bacteria.
    Also I believe the catfish we got started with a "J". Supposed to stay small. I will get a picture of one


    This is the catfish
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  16. Aquaphobia

    AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    You can add your fish right away and should (unless you're doing a fishless cycle) because otherwise the bacteria will starve. Without the fish you'd need to add ammonia;)

    As for the creatures you have in there now, don't feel bad if the ghost shrimp die, they're not treated very carefully and often don't live long anyway. If the fish are cories you'll probably be better off replacing them with something hardier that can survive a cycle.
  17. OP

    applesandoranges37New MemberMember

    Just will be sad if they die- I've already grown attached to the shrimp!
    Does the picture above look like a Cory?
  18. el337

    el337Fishlore LegendMember

    Ok, great! Then just continue on with the cycle.

    That is a corydoras catfish - c. trilineatus or False Julii. They are a shoaling fish and need to be in a group of 6+ of their own species. Unfortunately, your tank is not large enough for them as they are very active fish once they are kept in their proper numbers so a 20g min would be better. Also, the preset temp of 78 is too warm for them as they prefer it under 75. Perhaps you can upgrade later to a larger tank? :)
  19. Aquaphobia

    AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    Never mind! Picture is up now:)

    I think that's a Julii cory.
  20. OP

    applesandoranges37New MemberMember

    Omg 6 is a lot. Haha, and we weren't thinking of going any larger but if that's what they need to thrive then that's what we will do. Really wish Petco was better versed in their aquatic life!
    As far as temperature- what is ideal for the ghost shrimp? Can the catfish and ghost shrimp ℅-exist easily, or do we possibly need to separate them?

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